After a sometimes testy hearing, Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman denied an effort by Mark Jensen’s defense attorneys to remove the prosecutor from the case.
Jensen is being retried for the 1998 death of his then wife Julie. He is accused of killing her with antifreeze.
He was convicted 10 years ago, but the conviction was overturned by a federal judge who found that a letter written by Julie Jensen should not have been admitted at the trial. Julie Jensen had given the letter to a neighbor, saying it should be given to police if she died, the letter stating her fear that her husband planned to kill her.
Prosecutors opted to retry the case.
On Tuesday, defense attorney Deja Vishny argued a series of motions, including one asking that Special Prosecutor Robert Jambois be removed from the case. She also asked that a “manuscript” taken from Jensen’s prison cell during a search not be admitted at trial.
Vishny argued that Jambois had violated Jensen’s constitutional rights in asking that his prison cell be searched after his conviction while his case was on appeal, looking for what Jambois calls “a book” that Jensen was writing on his case. After Jensen’s conviction, Jambois had asked the Pleasant Prairie police to request that all Jensen’s telephone conversations from prison be recorded and sent to him. In some of those conversations with family members and with his second wife, Jensen mentioned the manuscript.
Jambois asked the Pleasant Praire police to request the Department of Corrections search Jensen’s cell, that the manuscript if found be copied and forwarded to police and from them to Jambois.
“I specifically told him that I wanted the book taken in a way that Mr. Jensen would not know that we had taken it,” Jambois said.
The manuscript, when found, was marked “attorney work privilege,” and Vishny argued that the document was meant for Jensen’s attorneys.
Jambois argued that prisoners’ cells are routinely searched. He said that the manuscript was not intended for Jensen’s attorneys, but that he planned to market it for sale. Even if intended for his attorneys, he said, he voided attorney-client privilege when he showed the manuscript to family members. Jambois played in court portions of taped phone calls between Jensen and his son, and his second wife, in which Jensen asked whether they had yet read the document.
Jensen and his second wife have since gotten a divorce.
Jambois, who came back to Kenosha to work on the case as a special prosecutor without pay, was visibly angry during portions of the hearing, especially because Vishny had served him with a subpoena. He was not ultimately called to testify.
“I am not the person who is on trial here,” Jambois said, later accusing Vishny of being “sloppy” in her work.
“I’ve got nothing to hide in this case,” Jambois said, saying he was angry about the motions filed in the case. “This is just such a massive waste - that’s why I’m upset. This is just a waste of time.”